As first birthday parties go, this is a good one.

For a man of 28 with no children, you’ll forgive my lack of experience in this department. I don’t remember my own – although I’m assured there was one. But whatever happened that day I’m sure it wasn’t half as fun as how the good folk at Manchester’s 2022NQ celebrate a year in the life of their very own baby.

Best described as cool multi-functional creative space, the Dale Street venue manages to feel somehow retro and somehow underground – despite being new and at street level. Which is an achievement in itself.

We arrive for part deux of a triple birthday bonanza with a difference. Sandwiched in between Thursday’s opening of a special hip hop photo exhibition and a Saturday night set from Manchester DJs Unabombers was a fascinating double rock-umentary screening.

After being greeted by a suitably minimalist DJ and offered free whiskey and popcorn we take our seats for film number one. A short introduction to the Icelandic music scene, entitled Iceland: Beyond Sigur Ros.

The film celebrates some of the more diverse and unique musical stylings to come out of that part of the Nordic European countries, since its eponymous band broke through over here. After all, as Haukur Magnússon of Reykjavík’s Grapevine Magazine says: “the last thing the UK or the USA needs are more pop bands”.

Highlights include a (hopefully) tongue-in-cheek quarry performance of Dansi Dans by the beautifully orchestral For A Minor Reflection, while death metal band Severed Crotch – as their name suggests – provide a real low point.

On to the main event and the room begins to fill up in anticipation of Shut Up and Play the Hits. The film constitutes a modern day Last Waltz style chronicling of the final 48 hours surrounding LCD Soundsystem’s last ever gig, held at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Before tonight I knew little about the band except they like Daft Punk and they’re from North America. They’ll tell that to anyone who’ll listen.

Frontman James Murphy seemed determined – perhaps against his better instincts – of going out on a high.

Seminal tracks like Losing My Edge and All My Friends are greeted with as much excitement, dancing and woop-wooping by the people at the back of the Manchester screening as by those in the NYC crowd back in 2011.

By the end of the screening the combination of free whiskey and intermittent electro all but ruins any hope of really listening to the rest of Murphy’s insights into the music industry and his reasons for leaving it behind. But who cares? This isn’t a movie premiere, this is a party. Or at least a pre-party warm up.

Café Art Gallery by day, drunk-cinema/disco by night. You get the impression that 2022NQ could go on to whatever it wants to be. And all this, before it’s even 18 months old.

Happy birthday guys.

Review by Paul Glynn


What: 2022NQ First Birthday Party – double bill screening of Shut Up and Play the Hits and Iceland: Beyond Sigur Ros, April 12, 2013

Where: 2022NQ, Dale Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester